Effective diagnosis of infectious pathogens is essential for disease identification and subsequent adequate treatment, to prevent drug resistance and to adopt suitable public health interventions for the prevention and control of epidemic outbreaks. Particular situations under which medical diagnostics operate in tropical environments make the use of new easy-to-use diagnostic tools the preferred (or even unique) option. These diagnostic tests and devices, usually based on biosensing methods, are being increasingly exploited as promising alternatives to classical, "heavy" lab instrumentation for clinical diagnosis, allowing simple, inexpensive and point-of-care testing. However, in many developing countries the lack of accessibility and affordability for many commercial diagnostic tests remains a major cause of high disease burden in such regions. We present a comprehensive overview about the problems of conventional medical diagnosis of infectious pathologies in tropical regions, while pointing out new methods and analytical tools for in-the-field and decentralized diagnosis of current major infectious tropical diseases. The review includes not only biosensor-based rapid diagnostic tests approved by regulatory entities and already commercialized, but also those at the early stages of research.